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Cancer Champions

‘Learning about cancer saved my life’: Sharon’s story

By 6th May 2021October 4th, 2023No Comments

‘If I hadn’t done the Cancer Champion training, where would I be? Learning about cancer saved my life.’

Sharon Hornsby, a Contact Officer with Humberside Police, received treatment for early stage breast cancer after a free awareness session prompted her to book an appointment with her GP.

In March 2019, Sharon took part in a 90 minute Cancer Champion awareness session at her work place. The session, hosted by Humber and North Yorkshire Cancer Alliance, taught the early signs of cancer, promoted national screening programmes and encouraged early detection of cancer. During the training, Sharon identified with one of the symptoms shown on a Know Your Lemons poster and decided to contact her GP.

She said: “Each lemon on the poster represented a symptom of breast cancer we should keep an eye out for, such as a dimple, skin sores, or a new shape or size. Upon looking, I realised my right nipple was on that poster!”

The Know Your Lemons poster, which uses lemons to demonstrate some of the symptoms of breast cancer. This includes changes to skin thickness, a lump, a sunken nipple, and more.

Sharon was diagnosed with breast cancer after recognising her symptoms on a Know Your Lemons poster.

“I quickly got in touch with my GP as my nipple had been inverted for approximately three months and because I was 48 at the time, I wasn’t eligible for the national breast screening programme. My GP was brilliant and, within 14 days, I was sent to Castle Hill Hospital for a mammogram. A few weeks later I received the news that I had stage two breast cancer.”

Sharon went on to receive treatment for cancer at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and in July 2020, was given the all-clear from cancer. Sharon is now encouraging others to take part in free Cancer Champion training and to take note of what is normal for them.

She said: “Learning about cancer saved my life. If I’d not attended that Cancer Champion training session, I would have carried on oblivious to anything going on inside my body. Also, because my tumours were deep within the breasts, I would have never felt them from routine checking at home.

“I would encourage everyone to attend the Cancer Champion training. Not just for personal reasons, but to be there for your colleagues, friends and family too. If I hadn’t seen the Know Your Lemons poster, if I hadn’t done the Cancer Champion training, where would I be?”

Image of Dr Dan Cottingham who is the GP Lead for Cancer at Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance. The image shows Dan standing in front of a brick wall, wearing a shirt and tie. He is wearing glasses and is smiling.

Dr Dan Cottingham, CRUK Primary Care Lead

Dr Dan Cottingham, CRUK Primary Care Lead for Humber and North Yorkshire Cancer Alliance said: “The Alliance is really pleased to have supported Sharon’s journey to early diagnosis and treatment of cancer. By teaching people about the early signs of cancer, the Cancer Champion programme aims to encourage people to talk about cancer and promote early detection.

“It’s important to be aware of the early signs of cancer and to know what’s normal for you, so that you can spot any symptoms that are unusual, persistent and/or unexplained. If you are worried about a symptom that might be cancer, please contact your GP without delay. As Sharon’s experience highlights, cancer is most treatable when it is diagnosed early.”

People living in the Humber, Coast and Vale region, including Hull, East Yorkshire, Scarborough, York, Grimsby and Scunthorpe can become a Cancer Champion by taking part in a free 90 minute virtual session. To find out more and sign up, visit

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